Tintypes is a musical revue conceived by Mary Kyte with Mel Marvin and Gary Pearle.
With its time frame set between the turn of the 20th century and the onset of World War I, this chamber piece with a cast of five provides a musical history lesson focusing on an exciting and tumultuous period in American history. During this time, the country's population doubled, expanded by increased immigration that changed the cultural and ethnic makeup of the nation. The transcontinental railroad and Carnegie Hall were built, electricity and the telephone were introduced to homes, cowboy Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States, automobiles joined horse-drawn carriages on city streets, and children worked in factories for twenty-five cents a day.
Tintypes opens with a quintessential immigrant, a mime eventually introduced to a variety of characters, including hopeful strivers and dream-filled achievers among the common folk and politician William Jennings Bryan, radical Emma Goldman, inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and glamorous entertainer Anna Held among the famous.
The score, featuring works by George M. Cohan, John Philip Sousa, Scott Joplin, and Victor Herbert, among others, is a blend of the patriotic songs, romantic tunes, and ragtime popular during the era.
The revue originally was produced by the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.. An off-Broadway production opened on April 17, 1980 at the York Theatre, where it ran for 137 performances.
After eleven previews, the Broadway production, directed by Pearle and choreographed by Kyte, opened on October 23, 1980 at the John Golden Theatre, where it ran for 93 performances. The cast was comprised of Lynne Thigpen, Jerry Zaks, Trey Wilson, Carolyn Mignini, and Mary Catherine Wright.
An original cast recording was released by DRG.